Posted By RichC on July 27, 2019
A lot of things needed to go right when NASA sent three astronauts rocketing towards the moon in July of 1969 … but one real close call happened after their safe return to earth. It seems, some of the iconic photographs were “almost lost to posterity,” explains Zeiss, the company that provided the lenses for Apollo 11.
According to Zeiss, “before the moon photos were developed, the processing equipment was checked one more time with a test film,” just to be sure everything was correct. “During this inspection the film processor suddenly started leaking ethylene oxide, destroying the test film. The development team quickly fixed the defect and successfully develop the images.” LINK
The photos potentially that could have been damaged was the one Neil Armstrong took of Buzz Aldrin (with his reflection in the visor) and the famous boot print on the moon! Imagine never having those photos due to a processing glitch back on earth?
It does remind me of the many times I took “relatively important” one time event photos and headed to the darkroom to process the film. I can recall rolling film “in complete darkness” onto the stainless steel spools hoping the film wasn’t accidently stuck together without a little gap for chemicals. Then again hoping the processing chemicals were all fresh and that the timer worked correctly as I “multi-tasked” trying to remember to agitate the processing tank correctly. Yes, there were close calls and mistakes … but nothing like a moon landing!